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‘Regular exercise boosts mental health’

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Regular physical activity lasting 45 minutes three to five times a week can reduce poor mental health.

According to new study findings published in ‘The Lancet Psychiatry Journal,’ doing more than that may not always be beneficial.

A total of 1.2 million people reported their activity levels for a month and rated their mental wellbeing.

People who exercised had 1.5 fewer ‘bad days’ a month than non-exercisers, the study found.

However, team sports, cycling and aerobics had the greatest positive impact.

Mental health is a level of psychological well-being or an absence of mental illness. It is the “psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioural adjustment”.

 

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), mental health includes “subjective well-being, perceived self-efficacy, autonomy, competence, inter-generational dependence, and self-actualisation of one’s intellectual and emotional potential, among others.

 

The study found all types of activity to improve mental health no matter people’s age or gender, including doing the housework and looking after the children.

 

However, the study could not confirm that physical activity was the cause of improved mental health.

Previous research into the effects of exercise on mental health have thrown up mixed results, and some studies suggest that lack of activity could lead to poor mental health as well as being a symptom of it.

 

Although, previous studies show that exercise was already known to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, adults taking part in the new study said they experienced on average 3.4 days of poor mental health each month. For those who were physically active, this reduced to only two days.

 

Study author and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University, Dr. Adam Chekroud, said: “Previously, people have believed that the more exercise you do, the better your mental health, but our study suggests that this is not the case.

 

“Doing exercise more than 23 times a month, or exercising for longer than 90-minute sessions is associated with worse mental health.”

 

He said the positive impact of team sports suggested that social sports activities could reduce isolation and be good for resilience, while also reducing depression.

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